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The majority of questions I see as being closed for being "off-topic" specifically say (when voting to close) the question is suited for some other Stack Exchange site. Makes sense, but why close it rather than move it?

Example(s):
Is it hard for older programmers to get a new job?
I want to start a web design site, Is it a realistic idea?

Not sure if this has been mentioned before
(as everything I searched refereed to a post about
"Why was my question closed as off-topic?").

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What's the example you've got here? –  random Aug 9 '11 at 3:06
    
@random I would list more but I haven't exactly kept track of each question :/ –  Shaz Aug 9 '11 at 3:14
    
Where on those examples does the dialog suggest it fits better on another site? –  random Aug 9 '11 at 3:16

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Questions are usually migrated when they are really good fits for the destination site. The questions you used as your examples are unfortunately mediocre at best.

(Disclaimer: for the two paragraphs below I speak as a Programmers moderator.)

Is it hard for older programmers to get a new job? was somewhat covered on Programmers here and here. I left a comment to that effect on the question. Since it just would be closed as a duplicate on Programmers, there is no reason to migrate it.

I want to start a web design site, Is it a realistic idea? could potentially have been migrated, but the question is pretty broad and unfocused. "Should I become a consultant at 17" is not a constructive question. "How do I start advertising my services" is better and perhaps could live on Answers.OnStartups.Com, but the question would need some editing first, I think.


Migrations done by community votes can only happen to 5 pre-defined sites and one of them is meta. Out of the remaining four, it's not always the case that there is a place to migrate the question to.

In general, it's hard to expect for most Stack Overflow users to be familiar with other Stack Exchange sites. The moderators are more aware of what's out there and you will sometimes see questions moved by a moderator to various sites. They can also migrate to any site without having to rely on a pre-defined migration path.

It's important to try and find the right place for the question to get the best answers, but the bottom line is that moving questions around is disruptive to the asker and potentially the communities that will receive those questions. Migrations should be done with care and it may be better to close a question and (if possible) point the asker to another site and let them figure out for themselves if posting there would be more appropriate.

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Good points, but then I don't see much of a reason to vote to close as off-topic because it suits Site X better. If Site X is never mentioned when the post is closed, what was the reason to choose which site? –  Shaz Aug 9 '11 at 3:31
    
@Shaz I'm not sure what you mean. Michael Mrozek's answer shows a screenshot of what the "vote to close as off-topic" UI looks like. –  Anna Lear Aug 9 '11 at 3:32
    
What I'm trying to say is: Why do they give you the option saying "it belongs on another site" if that site is never mentioned when the post is actually closed. The first example I gave was voted as off-topic belonging on programmers.stackexchange.com. However, when it was actually closed, there was no mention to where the question should of probably been asked originally. The dialog just said simply "Closed as off topic". –  Shaz Aug 9 '11 at 3:39
    
Only if 4/5 users (or a moderator) all agree a question has merit to live on another site, it will migrate. Otherwise, the question will die as off topic because it doesn't belong anywhere. @sha –  random Aug 9 '11 at 3:41
    
@Shaz Ah, I can answer that. :) On Stack Overflow, there have to be 4 out of 5 votes going to another site before the question is migrated. In that case, instead of saying "closed as off-topic", it will say "migrated to X" where X is whatever site the question is moved to. Looks like in your example, more people voted to simply close instead of migrating, so the question was simply closed on Stack Overflow. –  Anna Lear Aug 9 '11 at 3:42
1  
@Shaz You can leave a comment for the user along the lines of "I think this would be better asked on X, I voted to migrate the question for you", but please make sure the question really does belong on that other site before doing so. –  Anna Lear Aug 9 '11 at 3:42
    
@Shaz - I doesn't even take "more people" to get a question closed, it could very well be 3 votes for programmers and 2 undecided. I often see split votes between Superuser and Webmaster and those questions go nowhere either. –  Bo Persson Aug 9 '11 at 6:36

There are two possibilities. First, most users can't migrate to any site -- each site has a maximum of 5 migration paths. For example, here's the migration dialog on SO:

Screenshot of the migration dialog

3k users can only vote for those sites (mods can migrate anywhere, but there's a lot less of them).

Second, some sites get a bit...upset...if posts are migrated to them when they're not a good fit. Some users might choose to just close as off-topic every time rather than try to keep track of the ever-changing guidelines of each site

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  • It's really the poster's job to post in the right place
  • Only good questions are worth migrating (your examples seem like bad questions to me)
  • Migrating to beta sites is generally discouraged, and there are a lot of beta sites

Also possible:

  • A lot of off-topic posts are made by users who haven't taken the time to read the FAQ and haven't been around long enough to make on-topic contributions, and they won't understand the migration or even bother trying to follow it and understand what's happening
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